In the age of constant communication, we have grown to feel an obligation to live in this sort of 'on call' mentality all the time. We expect our friends to respond to a text message within the hour and any further delay has become, well just plain rude. We know it well, we live inside its walls, our constant need for instant gratification has become one of the downfalls of our day. We want answers to our questions, text messages, e-mails, phone calls and situations immediately. The reality is, we don't always get answers right away, and we have got to learn how to function well while honoring others in the gray area that is the unknown.
I used to be that person on the other end who grew frustrated with these delayed responses. I would often assume that the other person was upset. As if they had something more important to do than respond to my emoji filled text message about my latest love interest. Were they ignoring me? Maybe I just wasn't that important to them. My insecurities caused me to assume the absolute worst in some situations. *Anyone else been there? Just me? Ok, moving on... I found myself thinking thoughts about friends and loved ones that were completely absurd, and not at all in line with the character of who they were. I began to see assumption become the leading cause of my frustration and quickly realized that if I was not careful this could very well translate into every area of my relationships...
Assumption causes us to create full-length stories in our minds and our own insecurity will lead us to believe these stories to be absolute truth. When given a situation, we have two choices, to assume the best, or assume the worst.
Confession; I'm a people pleaser to the core. I try not to live in this identity, it is something I have to be absolutely conscious of, or else it will take over my entire calendar and become the driving motivational force behind everything I do. One day I realized that this wonderful quality I possess plays out most significantly when it comes to my cell phone. I used to have two, one for work and one for personal, this was an absolute nightmare. Two inboxes, two text accounts and two call-logs began to take over my life. I lived under this heavy weight of feeling the need to respond to the world, immediately. I would find myself with a constant running mental list of who I needed to text or call back, all the while working in a highly relational job where it was absolutely necessary for me to be 'all there' all the time. One day, I realized this was not only impossible, but my efforts to do this were unsustainable. There is just no way to be presently engaged in life and 100% on top of your iphone game. Something had to give. I began to extend grace more often to others because I realized how much I was in need of that same grace.
My lack of immediate response had nothing to do with my level of care for those trying to get in contact with me, it had everything to do with my inability to be all things to all people, all at the same time. I realized that I simply needed to start taking the pressure off of myself and start assuming the best of others, in every situation. To start seeing and believing that the people in my life care deeply for me, and have my best interest at heart. I began to believe the qualities about my relationships that I knew to be true instead of painting pictures of situations that were completely absurd. I began to imagine the reasoning for delayed responses and un-answered phone calls to be out of a place of striving for an active pursuit of presence on the other end. It is my hope that people continue to choose to truly 'see people', and I know, often times the biggest obstacle standing in the way of this view is our constant fight to 'be fully present'. I can only hope that myself and others can experience tiny victories in this battle, and if I have to practice patience on my end in the meantime, then count me IN for their win. :)
Stop all your striving and give yourself permission...to take the pressure off, to stop trying to be all things to all people. I don't mean that we should just turn off our phones and never respond to anyone, I think there is an art to this great balancing act of communication, and we can all continue to get better. We know we can't live without this tiny piece of technology, but what we can do is extend grace to one another more often in this area. We can do our best to truly make the most of our time with those we are actively engaging daily. What we can do, is choose to assume the best, to bridge the gap of the unknown with trust...in every situation!
For those situations where we just don't have the answers, would we practice trust. One of my all time favorite books is Brennan Manning's Ruthless Trust, one of the most powerful parts of the book hit me on page 5 where he quotes this story from Mother Teresa the great...
"The great teacher of ethics John Kavanaugh visited Mother Teresa while working for three months at her “house of the dying” in Calcutta. He was seeking clarity from God on the direction for his future. She asked him, “What can I do for you?”
He asked, “Pray that I have clarity.”
Mother Teresa said firmly, “No. I will not do that.” He was surprised and asked her why. She explained, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
Taken aback, he said, “But you seem to have clarity from God.”
Mother Teresa laughed, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
Where there is tension, may we choose honor, and would we honor others by simply trusting them through the gray and assuming the very best. Let's practice giving others the benefit of the doubt in all situations. After all, silence leads to assumption, and there are two roads we can choose to travel in the quest to finding a conclusion. We can either choose to assume the best or assume the worst, this choice belongs to us. I hope we can continue to honor people for who we truly know them to be, and take the chance on believing the best behind their intentions...always.
Wouldn't you want them to do the same for you?